Monday, 14 June 2010

Some things I saw

1. I'm quite fond of Glee the program. It's not that it's a work of staggering genius or anything, just that it's an hour in the week which is likely to raise a smile, and I'll be a bit sad after it finishes tonight. I wouldn't have said it had anything much more to say to the world than "Jazz Hands!!!". So I was interested by this perspective on it by Christina Mulligan, pointing out that an awful lot of what these kids get up to is utterly illegal, like putting Sue Sylvester's humiliating Physical workout footage on the web. The fictional Olivia Newton John's response consisted of remaking the whole video with Sue Sylvester in an Eric Prydz "Call on Me" style (lots of wobbly lycra-clad buttocks) and cashing in on the YouTube sensation; this is obviously more sensible than the probable real-life response, which would be serving draconian take-down notices. Those who make mash-ups online, a very illegal thing to do, appeal to their listeners to rediscover the original music, and that's how I first found M.I.A., Plastilina Mosh, Justice (remixed by MSTRKRFT) etc. In their use of mash-ups Glee has brought them just that bit closer to the mainstream, and has made a "fair use" case in a very compelling way. It would be ridiculous to argue that what kids like these do is in any way harming pop music or musical theatre. Is this the message of Glee? Is it putting forward the argument for the copyfight? I do like the way that reasonably low-brow TV can often say things that serious media or actual people could never get away with, like Battlestar Galactica's take on suicide bombing. (NB there are good mash-ups by Party Ben (I recommend the 2010 remix of Boulevard of Broken Songs) and Pheugoo.)

1a. Actually, I suppose it's more likely that this Fox, i.e. Murdoch-owned, program is just sublimely unaware of the whole thing. Heigh ho.

2. Lady Gaga's Alejandro video is out. Alejandro, which I have posted before, is probably my favourite Lady Gaga song. Go Lady Gaga! It annoys me that people say this sounds like Ace of Base; only insofar as it sounds like part of a European tradition of which only Ace of Base made it into the English consciousness. Lady Gaga wrote the whole of the Fame Monster album while touring the Fame album across Europe, and this one is clearly her tribute to a particular sort of Europop (as well as to how much she likes the gays). The three Lady Gaga albums (Fame, The Fame Monster, and The Remix) are among the very very few albums I listen to entire any more. Anyway, here's Alejandro:

The kids from Glee are unlikely to recreate this, even if Rachel and her mother did do a duet of Poker Face with all the stuff about bluffin' with my muffin left in.

3. Here's some of that great Europop: BWO's Barcelona.

In Sweden this is one of the biggest bands, and usually makes a pretty strong showing in the Melodienfest, the process by which the country's entry for Eurovision is chosen. In England no one takes pop very seriously, and it's been ages since any actual good pop act was entered for Eurovision. The fact that in order, apparently, to revive the standard of British entries they called in Andrew Lloyd Webber rather than, say, Calvin Harris and Dizzee Rascal says a lot. This saddens me, and I haven't watched it for a while, although it may be better now Terry Wogan has stopped commentating on it. In Italy they haven't taken part in Eurovision since 1997, which is obviously a serious lack to the competition. They have their own song competition called San Remo, which was apparently the inspiration for Eurovision in the first place. I first found out about it while I was living in Italy, and I could tell something was on one week because of the way suddenly everyone was indoors watching TV. They take it very seriously: it seems to have at least as much popular pull as the X Factor in the UK, and the same guarantee of chart success and magazine stardom for the winner. But even the X Factor in England avoids pop for ballads.

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